Rachel O’Brien lives in Eastleigh and in the last couple of years has been making changes in her everyday life to help undo some of the damage that people have done to the world with plastic and litter. She is now a proud part of the zero-waste/litter picking/ plastic free community and has created a website to share her journey with others.
Rachel got herself into the habit of picking up litter whilst walking her dogs; her walks pass two colleges, a school and a recreation ground so during every walk there’s always rubbish to be picked up. By putting it in the bin she hoped it would reduce the amount of litter making its way into rivers and eventually the ocean. She also hoped that other people would see her and perhaps consider doing the same to help keep the area cleaner.
Once she’d started picking up litter she decided to look at other ways she could minimise her personal waste, she began by reducing her plastic consumption through using local refill stores. As a result of this she now only puts out her bins for collection once a month.
Rachel has praised Eastleigh Borough Council for helping to reduce littering in her local area; by providing online forms to report lack of bins and fly-tipping, offering equipment that people can borrow for group clean up, offering the food waste collection bins and the wildflowers planted in the area.
She runs an Instagram account and blog to share her personal journey to becoming more environmentally friendly. She started a litter picking bingo game, where every month she shares a card with nine items for people to hunt down over the course of a month and once they’ve found everything they’re entered into a raffle to win an eco-friendly prize.
Rachel would like to see more of a focus on cycling in the Borough. She cycles to work every day and thinks the area could benefit from more cycle lines and awareness of cycle routes. She suggested an electric bicycle hire scheme to allow people less able to cycle for longer distances.
She wants to dispel the myth that moving away from single-use plastic and helping the environment could end up being more expensive. It might seem more expensive at first but the costs soon level out and the quest for plastic free/zero-waste can be quite enjoyable.
Rachel said: “I reduce what I buy, I reuse what I have, I refuse disposable and single use items, and I use recycling as a last resort. Being a conscious consumer is a huge part of helping our planet and if we have the privilege of choice we should use that to make more eco-friendly choices. We can’t do everything, but we can all do something.”